Oman elects two women to council

The Omani government has announced official results of elections to its advisory council, confirming that only two women had been returned to the 83-member body.

    Omanis tend to vote along tribal and familial lines

    It was the first ballot open to all citizens of the conservative Gulf sultanate.

    No official figures of voter turnout were provided although unofficial estimates showed turnout at the 4 October polls at more than 70%.

    Lujaina Muhsin Darwish, a 34-year-old businesswoman and scion of a prominent family, and Rahila al-Riyami, a former director of planning at the education ministry, in her early fifties, will continue to represent different districts of Muscat on the Majlis al-Shura, or Consultative Council.

    They were among 15 women candidates who contested for seats with 491 men.

    Oman was the first Gulf nation to
    give women the right to vote

    A total of 51 members have been re-elected for a second term, said Majlis PR director Hafiz al-Maskari.

    Tribal voting

    Chances of female candidates were reduced since Oman is a country where tribal and family links are dominant factors in voting.

    Oman was first Gulf country to give women the right to vote and run for public office in 1994.

    All citizens over the age of 21 are permitted to vote. But only 262,000 Omanis including 95,000 women registered to vote. This prompted officials to play down the number of eligible voters, which they had initially put at 822,000.

    Majlis al-Shura, elected for a fifth three-year term, advises the government on economic and social issues, but has no say in defence, internal security or foreign policy.

    SOURCE: AFP


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